For years, pro stock driver Kenny Martin Jr. has gone by the nickname “Krazy Kenny.”
Maybe it’s time to change it to “Krafty Kenny.”
Martin chalked up the 49th victory of his career at Fonda Speedway last week in the annual Hondo Memorial. It was a somewhat emotional victory for Martin because he and the late Hondo Carpenter were good friends and raced together for years.
But it also put Martin two wins away from tying Todd Hoffman’s career record of 51 pro stock victories. It had been assumed that Kenny Gates would get the record, because he entered the year with 50 wins. But now, it looks like Martin may be the first to get to Hoffman.
The record should be Martin’s already. Don’t forget, he didn’t race pro stocks for nine seasons, instead campaigning everything from sportsman to trucks on asphalt. But after Carpenter died, Martin returned to the pro stock division, and now has his sights set on the record.
Martin has enjoyed a good season, so far, racing the same car on Friday nights at Albany-Saratoga and on Saturday at Fonda. This is his first season at the historic Malta track, where he’s picked up three wins, and some enemies.
“That car has always run well, and I wanted to try it here with the open motor,” said Martin when he talked about his season prior to Brett Hearn’s recent “Big Show 5” at Albany-Saratoga. “Everyone said it wouldn’t work, but it did. I made a couple of little adjustments at Fonda, and the car woke up there, too. But the motor is a year and a half old, and I’m not sure if it’s going to survive the year. But what am I going to do? I’m racing for a piece of history, and I’m also second in points at both tracks, so I can’t stop.
“I thought if I ran well, it might bring out some sponsors, but it’s brought me some more enemies. A lot of guys don’t think I should be running as well as I am here.”
Martin, who thought about sitting out the 2013 season before he came up with some last-minute sponsorship, said there’s very little to change from Friday to Saturday.
“We just change tires, gear and weight,” he said. “It takes me about 40 minutes. It’s takes me longer than that to wash the car after a race. If all the tracks would get on the same tire, it would make my life a lot easier.”
Martin is certain that his years on the traveling circuits has played a part in his success at Albany-Saratoga this season.
“When we did the tour races, I always had to adapt,” he said. “First, I had to adapt to asphalt, and when we were running the sportsman, I had to adapt to different tracks and different surfaces. I’ve been good, but I’ve also been lucky, as adapting to new tracks.”
Either Martin or Gates should break the record before the season is out. But it’s still a tossup about who becomes the all-time leader in wins. That will depend on who sticks around the longest.
Around the tracks
It was a wild night at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park last Friday. Jeff Rockefeller drove to his first career modified victory in a feature that was shorted to 22 laps by rain, and Aaron Burton won the rookie sportsman feature, but then failed the post-race inspection and was disqualified, giving the victory to Blake Schwartling.
Mike Mahaney, who spends his Saturday nights at Fonda, picked up a total of $8,249 Wednesday night by winning the “Crazy 8’s Special” at I-88 Speedway. Mahaney drew the outside pole and led all 48 laps.
Bobby Varin started third in the feature at I-88, but made the wrong tire choice and wound up 12th.
The Super DIRT Series was in Canada earlier this week, with Dale Planck winning Monday at Drummondville and Matt Sheppard taking the checkered flag Tuesday at Granby. Hearn was fifth on Monday and fourth at Granby.
A huge crowd turned out at Lebanon Valley Sunday to watch the World of Outlaws and former Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. Stewart bounced off the wall in the feature and pulled into the pits, officially finishing 20th, but his appearance was overshadowed by the 50-50 drawing, which was worth over $10,000.
Although Andy Bachetti picked up his sixth win of the year at the Valley on Saturday, he’s getting buried by Hearn in the points race. Hearn, who won the first four features of the season, is the leader with 708, and already has a 102-point lead on Bachetti.
Matt DeLorenzo picked up his first win of the year last Friday at Albany-Saratoga, holding off Marc Johnson. “Marc was real good and he runs on the low side,” said DeLorenzo. “I thought I was a little faster through three and four, but I saw his nose and I figured, ‘I’ve got to go to the bottom, and he’s going to have to go around me.’ ”
Jack Gentile ended a four-year winless streak in the budget sportsman feature at Albany-Saratoga. But Gentile didn’t get a chance to celebrate the win, as the skies opened up on lap 16, ending the race and sending the fans scrambling for cover.